The power of Restorative Justice highlighted at House of Lords
The new Restorative Justice Service for victims of crime in Thames Valley was launched at the House of Lords on 20th October.
The event was hosted by Lord Blair of Boughton, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, in collaboration with Anthony Stansfeld, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley.
The PCC awarded the three year contract for his Victim-Led and Pre-Sentence Restorative Justice service to Thames Valley Partnership earlier this year.
Thames Valley Partnership has 15 years’ experience in championing and delivering Restorative Justice services in the region and is responsible for Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service (TVRJS) who are delivering the service.
Lord Blair, a former Chair of Trustees of Thames Valley Partnership, welcomed 50 guests to the launch event where the service was described in a series of presentations, including from victims who had benefited from a pilot service.
Speakers included the PCC, Anthony Stansfeld, who outlined the need for the service and the commissioning process, and Ray Fishbourne, the Chair of the TVRJS steering group, who outlined the long history of Restorative Justice provision in Thames Valley and TVRJS’s contribution to building an evidence base demonstrating the capacity of Restorative Justice to help victims and offenders.
Becci Seaborne, Director of the new service, then went on to explain how the service works and what it will offer to victims ofcrime.
A recent EU funded project, where victims of very serious crimes had met their offenders, was also described and two victims whohad participated shared the positive effects these meetings had had on their lives.
Gerry, a victim of childhood sexual abuse who met her abuser in prison, said:
“Restorative Justice has not only given me the tools to resolve a lot of pain, but it gave me the key to a functional life.”
The launch ended with information on the benefits of Restorative Justice in reducing the rate of reoffending and how more research is needed on how Restorative Justice helps victims in their long-term health and well-being.
Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“I am delighted to have funded this new service which will offer victim-initiated and pre-sentence Restorative Justice to victims of crime in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Restorative Justice is a powerful tool in helping repair the harm that has been done to those affected by crime.
“The testimonies from those that have been through the RJ process were truly impressive. They showed us how empowering and valuable it is to have the opportunity to explain to the offender the impact of the crime and to have their questions answered.
“I wish to thank them for sharing their stories and I know that the service will help many more victims of crime in the future recover from the experience.”
Geoff Emerson, Restorative Justice Associate at Thames Valley Partnership, said:
“It is the stories from people who have been helped by Restorative Justice that convince sceptics and policymakers. We heard from two brave people who want others to have the chance to meet those who caused them harm. By doing this they told us they got power back into their lives. I don’t think anyone in the room left unconvinced about the powerful benefits to be gained from RJ.”